Avoiding Poisonous Houseplants

Poison control centers nationwide receive many calls yearly regarding children ingesting houseplants. And with summer ending, many people are bringing their prized plants inside. Most plants are safe and beneficial, helping to purify our stale indoor air. However, some plants contain toxins and should not be in reach of children and pets.

Angel's Trumpet

Angel's Trumpet smells heavenly but keep it away from children.

Do you know which plants are toxic? Many lists are available on-line that name toxic houseplants and tell you which parts of the plants are toxic; however, you need to familiarize yourself with what they look like. The best way to avoid toxic plants is to brush up on your plant identification. Don’t bring plants inside that are known to be toxic. Or better yet, don’t grow them. If you do have a toxic houseplant in your home, keep it out of children’s reach and label it. It is recommend that you tie a label on the plant’s branches. Include the botanical name of the plant and label it at toxic and name which parts of the plant are toxic (roots, leaves, berries, etc.) Ask others to do the same in their home (grandparents, family members, friends).

It is also important to teach your children to not consume plants and berries found outside or inside that are not edible. However, we know that children learn about the world through oral exploration. Children at this stage will stick things in their mouths and it is our job to make sure harmful items are out of their reach. For children old enough, The American Association of Poison Control Centers have tips for poison control for children. Their site also has a section of Poison Control Tips for Children with a short educational video.

Families should have the number to their local poison centers handy in case of accidental ingestion. You can find the number on the American Association of Poison Control Centers website. There is also a standard 1-800 number that will work anywhere (great for when you travel to grandma’s or if you’re on vacation). Put this number in your phone. Share this number with your babysitter, family member, anyone that watches your child while you are away.

The good news (being optimistic here) is that very large quantities of consumption of toxic plants will cause a severe reaction. Small quantities may only cause mild irritation and discomfort. Most children that are exposed to toxic plants usually consume a small amount and suffer only from mild irritation.

Do you have more tips regarding toxic houseplants? If so, please share.

-Victoria

*Beautiful Angel’s trumpet pic from Ewa in the Garden.